I am happy to feature Gary again. He has completely revised his site, and offers stories to read, as well as services like ghostwriting and copywriting.
A young writer from the UK with big ideas, and an even bigger passion for words. A multigenre author of both novels and short fiction, Gary has a flare for the suspenseful, the frightening, and the unknown.
His post today is a fictional short story.
(It contains some swearing)
Morrisey’s Last Symphony
By Gary Holdaway.
Like most fresh recruits, Morrisey had grand visions of his military prowess on the field.With a Captain-America-like finesse he’d breeze through war zones with excellence and ease, quickly rising through the ranks to shine out among the others. Eventually he’d lead his own unit, and they’d claim victory after victory for his country.
Morrisey could not have been more wrong. He passed out of Lympstone by the skin of his teeth, shocked, though accepting of the fact, that the physical side of things was much harder than it looked. The three year delay before enlisting to start his family had softened him. He hadn’t accounted for the mental and emotional exhaustion that came alongside ‘becoming the best,’ or the longing for home. None of them did.
Now he sat panting with his back pinned to a tree barely wide enough to shield his shoulders, stuck in the middle of a shit-stinking mountaintop gunfight with blood pulsing from a hole in his shoulder. His clavicle was shattered, he could tell from the cold sweat and nausea that rose from the shock.
Afghanistan was a monster all of its own. Not only did the sun draw out every bead ofhydration from each available pore, but the rocky earth tore feet to shreds as if each separate boot-ridge were carved into the skin. All in that moment it became abundantly clear that ‘becoming the best’ meant fuck all against hundreds of untrained insurgents with AKs —some of them no more than teenagers, barely able to take the weight of the gun let alone handle the recoil. They’re kids. Just fucking kids.
His wound painted the dry earth with deep red splatters, his vision blurry through the buildup of tears and dust. He could just make out the features of Tait, or maybe Lilley, a few metres south, firing off ear-shattering rounds from behind an equally pathetic tree. They were done. Mission failure. Already in the fucking earth.
Bullets whistled through the air, smashing bark from trees. Magazines pounded out bullets from M4s, AKs, and whatever else the bastards could get their hands on, empty shells clanging against the ground like metallic raindrops. The impact between bullet and flesh, the thud of lifeless bodies slamming to the ground, played like bass and snare drums to a song nobody wanted to hear.
He drifted to the edge of his consciousness along a torrent of haphazard scenes from the war-movies Jennifer had him watch. He had always struggled with movies. He didn’t hate them, but could hardly sit through a full one without shuffling around, checking his phone, pausing to get food, or engaging in some other interruption that turned a two hour activity into a four hour one. But there was one that hooked him, scared him even, and he couldn’t shake it. Lone Survivor, with Mark Wahlberg. What a fitting movie to dredge up from the darkest corners of his mind while he found himself in a situation of certain death.
He entered a dreamscape between life and death, a surreal blend of memory and movie and book and music. His mind danced between cuts of his short existence, some as recent as yesterday, others distant and scarcely recalled, like slides in some corporate presentation. Lines and moments from a more random collection of movies flicked in and out of his mind. Arnold Schwarzenegger calling the predator an “Ugly Motherfucker’ while Martin Lawrence looks into a fish bowl and slurs the famous line: “This is a nice fish… Big fucking eyes, but a nice fucking fish.”
The sounds of battle around him twisted themselves into Schubert’s most beautiful symphonies, his mind resting on scenes of him typing freely on his laptop, creating escapist worlds of fantasy and horror. He loved to write. He’d spend hours creating vast universes and vibrant characters, with nothing but the delicate sounds of piano playing in the background. Now his mind created the same scene for him, in a transcendent universe where he was able
to watch himself at his desk, content and swaying with the music.
He’d never write again. And how would he write this story anyway? He supposed it’d go a hell of a lot like Lone Survivor, except without the surviving part.
His consciousness pressed on in this fashion, presenting anything but the pain, the noise, the screams and the winces of his brothers-in-arms as they were closed in, shot at, and hit bad. He was acutely aware of those things, like the background noise of Sarah and Freddie running around the house while he clung to that extra ten minutes of sleep each morning. Like the two or three times Jennifer tried to wake him with a cup of tea, her words heard, but not acknowledged. The dream was too captivating for the real world to penetrate its defences.
His eyes closed as he saw their faces for the last time. Each expression, each freckle, analysed and explored. The too-close-for-comfort BANG of a grenade set the inside of his eyelids to burst into multicoloured shapes. A rainbow shattering like a mirror, each fragment a separate screen playing memories of his family and friends.
He heard their voices say ‘I love you, Morrisey.’ He said the words back, as raw and as real as they could ever be said.
Morrisey’s body relaxed as he drifted into nothingness, the expert fingers of Schubert playing in tune with his final breath.